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Senator Harradine should note productivity commission draft report contents on Telstra service levels

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M E D I A S T A T E M E N T Stephen Smith MP Member for Perth Shadow Minister for Communications

35/99 Wednesday May 19th 1999


The Government Leader in the Senate, Senator Robert Hill, said today that he would clarify what needed to be done to secure Senator Harradine’s vote for the further 16% sell-off o f Telstra.

“Senator Hill should send Senator Harradine a copy o f the relevant extracts from the Draft Report o f the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the Impact o f Competition Policy Reforms on Rural and Regional Australia,” Shadow Minister for Communications, Stephen Smith, said today.

Mr Smith said that the draft Productivity Commission report contained grounds for alarm over deteriorating telecommunications service levels and standards in rural and regional Australia if Telstra is further privatised.

The draft report was released by the Productivity Commission for comment yesterday.

Mr Smith said the draft report evidence and findings outlined key concerns o f rural and regional Australia about the deterioration o f telecommunications service delivery.

The draft report states that “concerns relating to Telstra services and its operations in country Australia were raised constantly with the Commission during this inquiry. "

“These concerns are that country Australia will face slower response times in responding to faults and longer delays in connecting to new services, and a lesser commitment to the provision o f adequate services,” Mr Smith said.

“Many consider that commercial disciplines will lead Telstra to abandon its commitment to improving standards in country Australia.

“O f particular concern is the evidence and findings relating to fault repair performance.”

With regard to fault repair performance, the draft report stated there was an absolute decline in Telstra’s fault repair performance in the years up to 1998.

Rl 113 Parliament House ACT 2600 Phone: 02 6277 4108 Fax: 02 6277 8520

The draft report states: “Based on the minimum service standards introduced in January 1998fo r specific geographic areas, the proportion o f faults repaired in remote areas within the minimum service standards was well below that fo r rural and metropolitan areas".

“It is clear from this report that further privatisation o f Telstra will lead to further decline in standards o f service to rural and regional Australia,” Mr Smith said.

Media Contact: Patrick Bindon (02) 6277 4108 or 0415 694 878

R1 113 Parliament House ACT 2600 Phone: 02 6277 4108 Fax: 02 6277 8520